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Reflections: Pregnant at 40

Fertility specialist Aimee Raupp opens up about her own journey to conceive.

Reflections: Pregnant at 40

Last September, I turned 40. Just a few months prior, I fell in love with an amazing 43-year-old man. The relationship moved fast; we quickly moved in together and started talking about building a family. We both wanted children, and preferably more than one. Since we planned to marry, we questioned whether we should do that first, and then start to create our dream family. But rather than wait, we decided to just go for it.

We started trying to conceive in October and we agreed to not put too much pressure on it: we would just continue to have fun sex as we were already doing and see what happened. He offered to get his sperm checked and I said, “No. If we’re not pregnant in six months, then we can both get tests done.” I thought about getting my hormone levels checked with my gynecologist, but I put that task on the back burner as well. I just wanted to have sex and not focus on the getting pregnant part. I wanted to hold onto the faith I had in my body and in its ability to do what I believed and hoped it could do—conceive with ease, regardless of the fact that I was now 40 years old.

In all honesty—I never shared this with my partner—I did expect it to take at least three months, or probably more, to get pregnant. I know how long it can take a couple to conceive when both partners are over the age of 40. I know the increased risks of miscarriage and chromosomal abnormalities with age. I’ve heard about and read all of the same statistics we all hear about: the emotionally draining tests, the roller coaster ride of multiple rounds of IVF or Clomid, the painful shots, the mounting bills and the nights of tears. And, as much as I have always had faith in my body and its ability to conceive, I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say these thoughts weren’t causing me some turmoil.

In fact, I know the road of fertility challenges better than most because I practice Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and have specialized women’s health and fertility for the 10 years. I have helped hundreds of women on their path to conceiving and giving birth to a healthy child. I have written books and speak publicly on the topic, and I know all of the potential fertility challenges that exist because I have gone through them with my clients. I have witnessed way too many heart-wrenching fertility struggles. But, through my experience, I also know that most all the women I work with do wind up conceiving healthy children at some point--even in their 40s.

When I work with fertility clients, I guide them to adopt certain lifestyle changes—like becoming omnivores, eating organic, meditating, sleeping 7-8 hours each night and practicing gratitude—to optimize their fertility. Based on my decade of clinical experience and my years of extensive research, I believe that when we practice these lifestyle habits, we truly have the ability to change our health and improve our fertility--even in our 40s.

I’ve seen clinically how these tweaks in behavior can dramatically shift health in a positive direction. Many women, when they adopt these lifestyle changes, see improvement in their menstrual cycles and their ovulation; their hormonal imbalances balance out; their thyroid comes back into harmony; their lives change for the better; they are happier in the present moment; and, overall they are healthier on a global scale: mind, body and soul. It is then that I see them conceive—when mind, body and soul are in sync.

So, now it’s my turn to be a testament to what I preach: the way you live your life has an impact on your health and your fertility. And in my clinical opinion, chronological age pales in comparison to biological age.

As I am writing this, I am 16 weeks pregnant. I got pregnant the second month we tried. Last week, we got the results from my maternity 21 and nuchal translucency tests and they not only showed that the baby boy inside of me is healthy, but also that I have the same genetic odds of anything going wrong with this pregnancy as a women half my age. The doctors have told me there is no need for any further testing. We are in the clear.

I can’t tell you what a relief that news was. That’s not to say that when I go to the bathroom, I still make sure there’s no blood on the toilet paper or that I randomly catch myself squeezing my breasts (sometimes in public!) to make sure they’re still sore, or when I feel cramping in my low back, I fear I am miscarrying—even though I know it’s just the baby growing. I guess this is just the beginning of being parent and worrying about your child’s well being. It’s absolutely surreal.

For as many times as I’ve been on the other side of this with one of my clients, nothing compares to now knowing it and living it first hand. It truly is a miracle. And then to know that my odds of having a healthy baby are the same as someone half my age--I feel that is a true testament to all the work I have done on my health over the years. I really believe the way I live my life has reversed my aging process, or at the least slowed down the aging process of my body and its cells.

I’m living proof that 40 and pregnant happens and it can happen naturally, with ease and fun. I am proud to say that I treat my body like the palace I believe it is, and even though I had—and, will likely continue to have—moments of worry and fear over the health of my baby, I never lost faith in my body and its ability to conceive a healthy child at some point. For all this, I am beyond grateful.

As I always say in my clinic: you have the power to change your health and improve your fertility. My pregnancy at 40 years old is evidence of that.

Author, acupuncturist, and herbalist Aimee Raupp is a women’s health and fertility expert. Follow along on her blog for more on her pregnancy journey and check out her latest book, Yes, You Can Get Pregnant: Natural Ways To Improve Your Fertility Now and Into Your 40’s. And come meet her in person at Well Rounded NY’s Tips by Trimester event on March 26! Register here.

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This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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A few years ago, while my wife's baby bump got bigger and my daddy reading list grew longer, I felt cautiously optimistic that this parenthood thing would, somehow, suddenly click one day. The baby would come, instincts would kick in, and the transition from established couple to a new family would be tiring but not baffling.

Boy was I wrong.

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